Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dog and Cat Sitting in Little Rock

Penny with Tippi, a 14-year-old Jack Russell mix at the home of Javier Revollo in Chenal

Five Cats and a Dog Pet Sitting

Trust Your Fuzzy Babies to Penny

      Penny Boyer loves animals, and they love her.  So, when she decided to start her own business last March, Five Cats and a Dog Pet Sitting, she found her dream job.
      "I love animals, and I always wanted a job working with animals," Ms. Boyer said.  "I connect very well with them.  Owners will tell me, 'Oh, be careful, he might bite.'  And the next moment the dog is rolling over for me to scratch his tummy.
       "I take care of cats and dogs mostly.  Most of my teen and adult life, I have rescued animals. I think they sense that I have a heart for them."
         Clare Carothers of Little Rock declares that Penny is "wonderful."
        "We use her for our little dog, Boogie.  She takes care of Boogie when I am at work and when I am out of town.  She's always real flexible, and she meets my scheduling needs.  She goes the extra mile.  She spends time with him and develops a bond.  Boogie just loves her.  It's much more than just walking.  She knows his favorite toys, his favorite food.  She cuts out coupons and keeps me up to date," Ms. Carothers said.
          If Boogie needs to go to the vet, Penny will drop what she is doing and make time to take him, Clare said. 
         "She makes the pets a priority.  We could not have a better sitter.  We leave her our key.  She's very trustworthy. 
Boogie is like my baby.  I don't have any children.  Penny takes pictures and gives me updates by text. She's just an extraordinary person.  We are very lucky to have someone that special to help take care of our baby."
         In addition, Penny is willing to help with little chores, Clare said. 
         Included in her pet sitting service for no extra charge, Penny will bring in mail, open curtains, alternate lights in the house, water plants, scoop litter boxes and carry out trash.
         In March, when Penny started the pet service, she also started Just in Time Errand Service.  She will grocery shop, pick up or deliver cleaning, gift shop, pay bills, pick up prescriptions and even take your car in for repair. 
         But she's happiest when she is with what she calls her "fuzzy babies."
         She was pet sitting during our telephone interview in December and described the dog she was with that day.
         "He's a little dog, but he has a big dog syndrome.  When I first met him, he was just loving all over me.  (His owner) said that that had never happened with anyone else.  I have a natural affinity for them.  I just get attached to them."
         Penny sits for two terriers owned by Mary Price of Little Rock, administrator for a Little Rock hospital. 
         "I have two West Highland white terriers, Woody, who is 12, and Nikki, a rescue who is 9 1/2 or 10. Oh, my gosh, they just adore Penny. When we were out of town, she came by three times a day and fed, watered and walked them.  When we came back from Thanksgiving, we decided the dogs were so happy, they were so much calmer,  to use her more," Ms. Price said.
       "I was so excited to get the job," Penny said.  "They do what I call 'the little happy dance' when I come in. That's my goal.  I want the animals to not feel lonely and continue to feel love, and I think so far that has happened."
        Mary said she appreciates the notes that Penny leaves about how the dogs are doing and the photographs Penny sends on the iPhone  "She obviously cares about them and they have become attached to her."
        Mary said she also values Penny's willingness to help her around the house.  "I had her swap out the regular dishes for holiday dishes.  She is so helpful.  And she communicates with me about what is going on."
        For the errand service and the pet sitting service, Penny has insurance, so folks can rest easy whether she is moving their fine china or taking their fuzzy baby to the vet.
       "I am licensed and insured, and my bond is covered in my insurance. I have three insurance policies: commercial auto, for transportation of animals and items; business insurance, for, say, if I dropped and broke something; and pet insurance, so that if a dog I am walking bites, it covers it. I try to make sure that I am fully covered."
       If you want to hire Penny to pet sit, the first thing she will do is come out and meet with you and your pets.
       "For the pet's comfort, it is best not to have a stranger walk through the door."
        And when she sits, she's not just sitting.
       "I'll play with them, hold them, love them. My goal is for when the parents are gone, that they still feel love and comfort and are not stressed."
       Often, the pet sitting and the errand service mesh quite well for this Jane-of-all-trades.
       "I have one client who is not able to drive, and I go grocery shopping for her. She also has a dog.  I take him to the vet.  I am a 'pet taxi service,' and I'll take them to be groomed." 
       Penny has had a lifetime of experience loving and caring for all sorts of animals.  The love of her life was her cat, Sam, who passed away at 21.
      "Sam was like my child. I have five cats.  I was going to get a dog, but the deal fell through. It has to be a dog that needs me.  All of my cats were abused or abandoned.  Seeley was found in a locked house.  The owners had moved out and left him.  A real estate lady found him skinny and hungry. Now he almost 15 and a half pounds.  He'll be five in March.
      "I went to the vet to get some food, and they said you need to look at these kittens."  Penny ended up taking the kittens home, bottle feeding them and then re-homing them.   
       "A friend called and said, 'I have something to show you.'"
       That something turned out to be an abandoned kitten.  Penny named him Wally.  He'll be five in April, a happy member of her household.
       "Somebody dumped a cat at my mom's house.  When I caught her, she was about 8 weeks old."
        Now Freckles is three years old and playing the part of mom to the latest members of the clan, two kittens who had been abused.
         "My guess is that they had been kicked.  They were terrified of shoes.  Freckles - took them in like they were babies.  They are Scooter and Ziva, who was named after the pretty lady on (the television show) NCIS.  Ziva has 
silky black hair and is really an exceptionally beautiful cat.  But she is not normal.  She still thinks she is a kitten needing her mommy.  Freckles bathes her.  I couldn't re-home them when one is not normal.  Now, I love her dearly and wouldn't give her away for the world. Nobody gets to pet her but me."
        In the last four years, Penny has rescued and re-homed 13 animals.  She had to stop, because she didn't have the money for vet care and to have them fixed.  She was even putting out food for all the wild critters in her back yard for years.  But that ended when a family of skunks showed up, and her neighbors were not pleased.
        Penny said her life has been enriched by the animals that she has loved and is amazed about the things they teach her everyday. 
       "Several years ago, I had fallen and I had hurt my right wrist.  I went to the doctor who did an MRI, and it showed it was okay.  Sam would come and smell of my arm.  It turned out I had a severe ganglion cyst.  He knew it was there, and he could smell my arm and he knew something was not right.  When my arm healed and the cyst went away, he stopped smelling my arm."  

The Dog Bowl in Little Rock

The Dog Bowl 

       The Dog Bowl is a delightful new shop in Pleasant Ridge Town Center that carries a wealth of food, toys and treats to keep your best friends happy and healthy.
         Mike Catanach's store offers a variety of heathy food for dogs, organics and brands with no corn, soy or wheat. You can get canned or dry or even raw foods.
        "We have a wide selection of raw foods - the healthiest way to feed your dogs.  You thaw them out.   They are raw, not cooked, so your dogs get all the nutrients out of the food, all the protein and goodness before it is cooked out," Mr. Catanach said. 
         The store offers healthy chew treats starting at 95 cents and different everyday treats, what Mike calls "that a boy" biscuits. 
         "We have long-lasting chews that last a couple of weeks and keep them from chewing the furniture."
         The shop is just chock-full of toys, collars and leads.  
        "We have an excellent selection of beds that range from $90 to $210.    We have a collegiate line of bowls, jerseys, even car magnets.  'My dogs heart Baylor.'" 
        Those two dogs are Mike's two beagles, Digger, a 10-year-old, and Samantha, an 8-year-old.
        And, of course the shop carries a huge line of Razorback clothing, beds, feeding bowls, collars, leads and even hair bows.
        "I also have a lady who does custom leads and collars and hats.  She is Pam Kaplan of Dallas, and her line is called Zamora's. These are really high-quality items.  She has one green collar with red felt in the middle and some with bows. We've had a big response for those. She does things for every season." 
        Mike offers a line of toys called "Hear Doggie."
       "The dogs can hear the sounds, but we can't.  We hear only a whoosh of air, and they hear an audible squeak.  It's become my dogs' favorite toy."
        Mike opened his shop at the suggestion of his mom, Sandra Catanach of Dallas.  Mike said there is a store like his in Dallas where she liked to shop for her dogs.
       "'Why don't you do that,' she said.  I told her she was crazy."  But Mike began investigating the possibility and liked the information his research disclosed.
        "I found there is nothing like this here, a complete whole store devoted to dogs. I know how much the people of Arkansas and Little Rock love their dogs.
        He hired the owner of the Dallas store to help him set up in Little Rock. "I've had people come in here and look around and say, "You know, there's a store like this in Dallas."  The people in Dallas root for me and we exchange business cards."
        Mike said that Pleasant Ridge Town Center has been a great location for his business.
       "Lou Schickel (owner of the center) has been fantastic.  He's a great landlord.  He's been great to work with. He and his staff have been supremely supportive and great."
       Mike had been working 16 hours a day to get his store up and running.  Christmas day is going to be his first day off since July.  
      "I've had a lot of good friends and family helping me,  Without them, I definitely couldn't have done it in five months."
      The Dog Bowl is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is open 1 - 5 p.m. on Sundays for the holidays only.  You may contact Mike by calling the store at 353-1260, or visiting, www.facebookcom/ or
       Stop by and meet this pleasant young man, and, oh, don't forget to bring your dogs.

This story was written by Bobbi Nesbitt and first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Shoppe Talk.